Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Moves Forward With Plan To Close Some Wards at King/Drew Medical Center
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted 3-2 to formally consider closing Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center's pediatric, obstetric and neonatology wards, the Los Angeles Times reports. In accordance with state law, a public hearing is to be held on Oct. 18 (Ornstein/Weber, Los Angeles Times, 8/17).
County officials on Aug. 4 recommended eliminating those wards at King/Drew. The patient care wards recommended for closure have 38 patients daily on average, or about 22% of King/Drew's 176 daily patients on average.
In briefings with the county supervisors, Thomas Garthwaite, director of the county Department of Health Services, also recommended against reopening the facility's trauma center in the near future and said that King/Drew also should reduce cardiovascular surgery, neurosurgery and other services required to reopen the trauma unit (California Healthline, 8/5).
During about five hours of public testimony on Tuesday, all of more than 60 speakers opposed the plan.
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who sponsored the motion to proceed with a hearing, said, "When you're flunking out of school, you've got to cut out ... extracurricular activities and focus on reading, writing and arithmetic."
Supervisor Gloria Molina, who opposed the plan, said the vote "demonstrat[ed] to the community, once again, that the only urgency we have is an urgency to cut the services."
Marcelle Willock, former dean of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, said King/Drew's future was being decided by the "old white males" on the board. "[W]e need women to make important decisions with this regard," Willock said, adding, "I'm sorry gentlemen. You are not as sensitive as you should be" (Los Angeles Times, 8/17).